April 17, 2014
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Add another historic milestone to the résumé of the 2013-14 Purdue men's tennis team. After taking down their in-state rival in then-No. 69 Indiana, dominating then-No. 16 Penn State and taking top-ranked Ohio State to the wire last week, the Boilermakers obtained the program's highest national ranking at No. 28, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced Tuesday. Now with a hard-earned target on their backs, they will take their 15-4, 7-2 Big Ten record on the road for the final weekend of the regular season. Purdue is set to first face Michigan State (9-13, 3-6 Big Ten) Friday at 4 p.m. ET in East Lansing. On Sunday they will collide with No. 49 Michigan (12-11, 4-5 Big Ten) in Ann Arbor at 12 p.m.
The Boilermakers enter the final weekend tied with Illinois for second in the Big Ten Conference standings with a 7-2 record. The Fighting Illini host No. 51 Minnesota (11-10, 5-4 Big Ten) Friday and Wisconsin (9-13, 1-8 Big Ten) Sunday. At 9-0 in league play, Ohio State has already clinched at least a share of the Big Ten Men's Tennis Championship. The Buckeyes close out the regular season hosting Iowa (9-12, 1-8 Big Ten) and Nebraska (12-12, 3-6 Big Ten). A top-four finish in the conference standings earns a first-round bye in the Big Ten Men's Tennis Tournament, slated for April 24-27 in East Lansing.
This season head coach Pawel Gajdzik's team has made its mark in the record books. In four previous years at the helm, Gajdzik's squads had combined to defeat 14 nationally ranked teams. This year's team has taken down nine ranked teams. The 6-1 upset of 16th-ranked Penn State on April 11 was the highest ranked opponent the Purdue men's tennis program had ever defeated. All four of the Boilermakers' losses have come to a ranked team, three of which were to a top-10 opponent.
The Boilermakers' eight-match winning streak that spanned from March 21 - April 11 is the longest during Gajdzik's tenure and the longest since the 1996 squad won nine straight. Purdue is one victory away from matching its most Big Ten wins in a season (8) and eight wins shy of matching the program's best win mark of 23 set in 1982.
On Tuesday, the conference office named Aaron Dujovne the Big Ten Men's Tennis Athlete of the Week. The senior hailing from Santiago, Chile, became the first Boilermaker to earn the honor since Paul Rose (April 2, 2003), and just the sixth in program history since the award was instated in 1990. Dujovne posted victories in all five of his completed matches last week, including a pair of wins over ranked opponents. He has won his last four singles matches at No. 4, owning an overall record of 13-2 and an 8-1 mark against Big Ten opponents.
Mark Kovacs (15-3), Mateus Silva (15-2) and Diego Acosta (13-4) join Dujovne as singles players with double-figure win totals. For the second consecutive poll, the tandem of Szymon Tatarczyk and Ricky Medinilla are ranked, climbing four spots to No. 70. The senior/freshman duo has a record of 8-2. Dujovne and doubles partner Acosta garnered their first national ranking at No. 85 after their 8-6 upset of then-No. 54 Chris Young and Michael Reilly of Penn State.
Despite having a sub-.500 record, Michigan State has defended its home courts throughout the season. The Spartans are 8-1, with their only blemish as a 5-2 loss to Ohio State on March 23. In their last time out on April 13, they dropped a 5-2 match at Minnesota.
Michigan ended a three-match losing skid last weekend with a 4-3 win at Wisconsin to move above .500. The Wolverines will entertain No. 59 Indiana on Friday before Purdue invades the Varsity Tennis Center Sunday. Alex Petrone is the lone ranked singles player for Michigan at No. 103. His 15 victories are a team-best mark, which is also shared by Alex Buzzi. In doubles, Buzzi along with partner Barrett Franks are listed 31st. The senior duo owns four victories over top-20 ranked opponents, including an 8-7 (6) victory over Illinois' third-ranked tandem of Tim Kopinski and Ross Guignon on April 6.
Purdue will look to snap both the Spartans and Wolverines' hold in the respective all-time series. Michigan State has taken the last four matchups from the Boilermakers. Purdue's last win in the series, which is led by the Spartans 44-28, came on March 27, 2011, as the Old Gold and Black captured a 4-3 upset victory. Michigan has had the Boilermakers' number since 2005, winning the last nine matches. Prior to that, Purdue had won three straight. The Wolverines own the series 68-10.